In 1957, I began a Technical Apprenticeship with Birmid Industries Ltd., of Smethwick, Staffs., and in 1958 worked for a training period of some months in the magnesium foundries of one of the Birmid companies, Birmingham Aluminium Castings Co. (1903) Ltd., Dartmouth Road, Smethwick. At that time I had no particular knowledge or interest in cars, but one job I worked on puzzled me then and even more so over the following years. This was a batch of some half-dozen or so 6-cylinder, air-cooled, cylinder blocks cast in electron alloy for ERA. That they were 6-cylinder, air-cooled magnesium cylinder blocks is a fact — I worked on 2 or 3 of them myself, assisting a grand old foundryman, Bill Gebby, then past retiring age (now deceased). I can remember being then under the clear impression that they were for a customer called ERA, and that they were for car engines. I can remember commenting then that ERA were makers of famous racing cars. I don’t think (with hindsight) that the cylinder blocks were for aero-engines; for two reasons. Firstly, I can’t recall the castings being subject to the inspection and testing procedures (X-rays, etc.) common to most of the foundry’s other production for aircraft. Secondly, the blocks were not large; I now estimate a capacity of, say, 2 litres.
In all the years since, I have never come across any reference or mention of such engines in any motor magazine or book. Anyone any ideas?
Leamington Spa, Warks.